(Est. 1810) “The Catacombes de Paris are underground ossuaries in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris’ ancient stone mines. Extending south from the Barrière d’Enfer (“Gate of Hell”) former city gate, this ossuary was created as part of the effort to eliminate the city’s overflowing cemeteries. Preparation work began not long after a 1774 series of gruesome Saint Innocents-cemetery-quarter basement wall collapses added a sense of urgency to the cemetery-eliminating measure, and from 1786, nightly processions of covered wagons transferred remains from most of Paris’ cemeteries to a mine shaft opened near the Rue de la Tombe-Issoire. The ossuary remained largely forgotten until it became a novelty-place for concerts and other private events in the early 19th century; after further renovations and the construction of accesses around Place Denfert-Rochereau, it was open to public visitation from 1874. Since January 1, 2013, the Catacombs number among the 14 City of Paris Museums managed by Paris Musées.” (Wikipedia)
The graphic identity echoes the double visit: one on geology (former stone mine) and the second on the ossuary. The logo thus evokes the underground galleries - by a game of trap that reveals in the letter "C" the flagship image of the Catacombs, the skull. Engraved in the counterpart, two ovals and a triangle come to draw a minimalist skull.
Finally, this project was the subject of a typographic order, the "Dédale" designed by Thomas Bouville. This hybrid typographic family straddles the category of incise and mechanics. It unfolds in three distinct greases to meet the common usage of composition: a light style for titling, a regular style for the current text and a bold style for emphasizing textual elements.
Several details have been borrowed from the lapidary inscriptions that adorn the walls of the Catacombs underground passages. The variation of the structural characteristics of the letters according to their weight testifies to a homage to the ossuary, it emphasizes an analogy with the human body composed of a carnal envelope, different organs and a skeleton. In this way, the family symbolizes a transition from one state to another, a transition from life to death.
Mo-To provided text (Google-translated)
Images (opinion after)
As you can see from the header image, there wasn’t much of a before logo (as confirmed by the designer of the new one), just a sign on the outside. Being such a popular attraction and part of the network of Paris Musées’ institutions, it certainly could use a more formal logo. The new logo is a charming “C” monogram with a skull in the negative space. My brain is immediately pleased from the visual play but I wonder if the execution is too playful or kid-friendly in contrast to what the place actually is and looks like. I think turning the knob up one or two levels on the Stephen King dial could have been beneficial. The custom type family is interesting but perhaps a little heavy on the sans serif structure with not enough contrast in the thicks and thins as you would normally find in incised lettering but it does look good on the posters in that middle weight. Overall, a valid approach altogether but being such a unique place I think there was a lot more that could have been unearthed to make a more intriguing identity.